Friday, April 22, 2005

Stacking the Deck | by Jay

Last night Charlie released his rosters for Saturday's Blue & Gold game, and holy cow are they lopsided: Blue looks like an absolute powerhouse. In fact, it appears that almost every regular starter, save a couple, will be wearing blue tomorrow. Even the coaching ranks are stacked, with Blue getting both Minter and Haywood (and Gold being saddled with Theisman). I'll set the early line at Blue -17.

The good news for Gold? They already won the coin toss (it's true). And according to the rules, after each score, the team that's behind will get the ball on their own 35 (whether they just scored or not). My guess is that will be Gold most of the time. But truthfully, about the only way they'll be able to compete is if they can convince one of their celebrity assistant coaches -- who also happens to be an active NFL player -- to throw on some pads.

The reason for this planned disparity? Charlie mentioned the reason in his post-practice presser last night: he wants the first-string lines playing together, and he wants Quinn working with his top receivers. This makes sense. With an all-new system, new terminology and new strategies, this game will function not just as an exhibition match, but a continuance of the learning process that started this spring. Why break the continuity when you're still getting your feet wet?

Yet I suspect there's another purpose Charlie didn't mention that's going to play out on the other sideline. Just about everybody on the Gold squad is competing for a spot: either as a possible starter, a first-option backup, or a special teams player. By loading up a team with all the backup guys, Charlie just created a great opportunity for someone to really "step up" and make a play. It's a chance to get noticed and make a mark for yourself, something Charlie harped on after the very first practice this spring ("...the biggest problem I had with today was not seeing enough people, people that I don't know that much about, making a statement for themselves. If I'm going try and have this open-door policy, where everyone gets a fair chance and a fair opportunity to make a name for themselves, then I'd like some people to stand out and do some things.")

So, Nate Schiccitano, and Chris Vaughn, and Terrail Lambert, and Anthony's your chance to make some noise. Let's go Gold!